Sinus infections and sinus headaches are related, but neither has to be present for the other to occur. Sinus infections are caused by bacteria or viruses that make their way through the mouth and nose and past the tonsils and adenoids. Sinus infections are characterized by sinus pressure, headaches, congestion, drainage, runny nose, sore throat, and a low-grade fever. Sinus headaches are often related to congestion within the sinus cavities that causes pressure on the different structures of the face. Breaking up the congestion and relieving the pressure is the most effective way to relieve a sinus headache. Sinus headaches can occur without a sinus infection being present.
Sinus infections most commonly result from viruses that enter the body through the nose leading to swelling of the nasal and sinus lining. An infection can also be caused by bacteria, by repeated exposure to allergens and airborne contaminants such as cigarette smoke, and by anatomical obstructions in the drainage pathways of the nose and sinuses. When the lining inside the nose and sinus is swollen, it is difficult for the mucus to naturally drain and can provide a breeding environment for bacteria. People who have depressed or compromised immune systems are more susceptible to various kinds of infections and health concerns, including sinus infections.
Sinus infections can be treated with antibiotics, decongestants, nasal saline, and nasal sprays that contain corticosteroids. If a fever is present, the doctor may recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help keep the fever and any known aches and pains under control. If sinus infections are the result of repeating allergic reactions, allergy testing and treatment may be recommended. In individuals with recurrent or chronic sinus infections, adenoidectomy and/or sinus surgery to open the sinuses may be recommended.
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